A systematic review of conservative interventions for osteoarthritis of the hand

J Hand Ther. 2010 Oct-Dec;23(4):334-50; quiz 351. doi: 10.1016/j.jht.2010.05.001. Epub 2010 Jul 8.


Study design: Systematic Review.

Introduction: Hand therapy interventions for patients with hand osteoarthritis (OA) can include splinting, joint protection technique instruction, paraffin, exercises, and provision of a home exercise program.

Purpose: Examine the quality of the evidence regarding the hand therapy interventions for hand OA.

Methods: Twenty-one studies dated between 1986 and 2009 were included in the systematic review for analysis.

Results: The current evidence provides varied support for the interventions of orthotics, hand exercises, joint protection techniques, the utilization of adaptive devices, and paraffin. Findings for the use of joint protection techniques are supported for improvements in function and pain reduction. Minimal evidence exists for paraffin used for the treatment of hand OA.

Conclusions: The current literature supports the use of orthotics, hand exercises, application of heat, and joint protection education combined with provision of adaptive equipment to improve grip strength and function.

Level of evidence: 2A.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryotherapy
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Hand / physiopathology*
  • Hand Strength
  • Hot Temperature / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology*
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Paraffin / therapeutic use
  • Research Design
  • Splints


  • Paraffin